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An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles were first used during World War II. Though Western nations were slow to accept the assault rifle concept, by the end of the 20th century they had become the standard weapon in most of the world's armies, replacing full-powered rifles and sub-machine guns in most roles. Examples include the StG 44, AK-47 and the M16 rifle.

The term assault rifle is generally attributed to Adolf Hitler, who for propaganda purposes used the German word "Sturmgewehr" (which translates to "storm rifle" or "assault rifle"), as the new name for the MP43, subsequently known as the Sturmgewehr 44 or StG 44. However, other sources dispute that Hitler had much to do with coining the new name besides signing the production order. The StG 44 is generally considered the first selective fire military rifle to popularize the assault rifle concept. Today, the term assault rifle is used to define firearms sharing the same basic characteristics as the StG 44.

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